CITY centre management chairman David Pickering believes the retail picture in Chester is not as bad as it is claimed.
Mr Pickering says there will always be a turnover of shops and January is the worst time of year for empty units.
He accepts the number of shoppers is down but, having spoken to major retailers like Marks & Spencer and Boots, he understands the average spend per customer increased.
He said: “My feeling is that M&S Chester has done better than nationally over Christmas, for example. One of the trends seems to be that foot-fall is down but the amount people are spending is up.”
Mr Pickering, a successful businessman, said retailers and the city council were starting to work together more closely.
“Various parties are coming together including the city and county councils, the police and Visit Chester and Cheshire.”
The soon-to-be-launched ‘Smile’ campaign will use a £20,000 war chest to promote retailer and hotelier offers, publicise train services and host events such as a city centre garden display to generate interest in Cheshire Year of Gardens 08.
Mr Pickering is making his own personal contribution by buying a life-size sheep model which will be popping up across the city as a “gimmick” to generate interest.
“There is no doubt about it, we have got to work at it. Even the big stores have acknowledged that if you stand in M&S or Boots you could be anywhere in the world but within 300 yards you have the Rows and then you know you are in Chester. That is Chester’s unique selling point,” he said.